A question of head and heartArticle
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BRONZE-MEDAL MATCH PREVIEW: Kielce and Barça Lassa duel for the last victory of the season, as Alex Dujshebaev fights for the top scorer trophy
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A question of head and heart

PGE Vive Kielce and Barça Lassa will open the last day of the 10th edition of the EHF FINAL4, fighting for the final victory of the season. While the Polish champions were only disappointed after losing their semi-final against Telekom Veszprém HC, Barça Lassa were in a state of shock following their defeat versus HC Vardar on Saturday night.

  • Kielce’s Alex Dujshebaev can become the first ever Spaniard to become EHF Champions League top scorer, as he currently leads the season’s ranking – four goals ahead of Vardar’s Dainis Kristopans
  • If Dujshebaev receives this trophy, one series will continue: since then Hamburg wing Hans Lindberg in 2013, no Champions League winner has taken the top scorer title
  • Barça Lassa won the only previous duel against Kielce played in Cologne, in 2015, on their path to the trophy
  • Kielce have never lost a 3/4 placement match played in Cologne

PGE Vive Kielce (POL) vs Barça Lassa (ESP)
Sunday 2 June, 15.15 local time, live on ehfTV.com

Barça Lassa won both group matches in the 2018/19 season against their opponents for Sunday’s clash, including the high-scoring game in Kielce, 42:36. Overall, the sides have faced each other eight times, with five victories for the Catalan team, two draws and just one Kielce win. The only duel at the VELUX EHF FINAL4 was Barcelona’s 33:28 victory in the 2015 semi-final.

The main question for the record winners will be how they cope with the unexpected 27:29 semi-final defeat against Vardar after a 25:19 advantage 13 minutes before the end. “This was like day and night,” said Barça team captain Victor Tomas, while goalkeeper Kevin Møller added: “We have to stay professional. And as we don’t want to return to Barcelona with empty hands, we’ll give everything to win tomorrow against Kielce. Although there are many friends in the team, it will be war on the court.”

Alex Dujshebaev has the chance to become top scorer of the EHF Champions League for the first time. With 94 goals on his tally, he is four goals ahead of Vardar’s Dainis Kristopans. “We made too many mistakes, but now we are eager to finish this season victorious,” said the right back after the 30:33 loss against Veszprém in the first semi-final.

Kielce won both of their 3/4 placement matches, in 2013 and 2015, while Barcelona have recorded one defeat (2017) and one victory (2014) in bronze-medal games played in Cologne. “It is always hard to get motivated when you are down, but we want to repay our fans, who support us here in Cologne,” said goalkeeper Vladimir Cupara, for whom it will be the last match with Kielce before he joins Veszprém.

Julen Aguinagalde and Alex Dujshebaev will face many teammates from the Spain national squad, with whom they became EHF EURO champions for the first time in 2018.

TEXT: Björn Pazen/cg